Mood is best understood, I think, when we look to its Old English origin, mod, meaning ‘frame of mind’. It is about perspective, balance, harmony, presence, and so on. Today, I’d like to introduce the topic of vigilance of vulnerable moods, which I believe is an essential matter if we are to live well, with ourselves and with others. Over the coming weeks, I will look to five frames of mind which cover a range of mental health experiences: depression, low mood, dysphoria (intense unease and agitation), hypomania (elation and overactivity) and mania. I will also write about these in creative terms: being vigilant of the ultimate gloom, the shadow, intolerance, the speed limit and total disconnect. Continue reading
“Let your life be one big Hallelujah!”
How lucky we are to be on this planet and how ungrateful we are too. I mean, if you think about it, we are presented with so many gifts each day – people, places and things – but we clearly do not fully appreciate that we have more than enough, more than what is needed to be healthy and happy. I am a desperately miserable person in this regard. At the end of the day, I give thanks for as much as I can think of, but the list seldom goes beyond my number of fingers. Yet, when I am truly connected, I see my life like a whole department store of blessings and graces each and every day. Continue reading
“Outside of the tree there is no fragrance” – Zen saying.
I ponder that when a tree is unified with all its parts – roots, trunk, branches – it emits a delightful fragrance. Similarly, when I am unified in mind, heart and body, I emit something sweet. For me, this fragrance is a stillness that is nurtured through regular meditation and has positive effects on my being. When I meditate, my back is straight and my breathing rhythmic, my mind is focused and quiet and I feel peace and gratitude. Continue reading
I’ve been reflecting lately on the state of our relationships. I think it is fair to say that we all have a degree of harmony and disharmony with others. There is a smoothness with those we get on well with; there is a synchronising of heart rhythms when we are together. We trust each other, love each other and care for each other. We create a homely atmosphere wherever we may be: at a coffee shop, in the work canteen, in the park. Conversely, we feel tension and frustration with those we don’t see eye to eye with: our heart rhythms repel when we are together. We are vigilant and on guard for any verbal attacks. We are cautious and don’t share too much. We are happy to see each other’s backs. Isn’t it a curious thing? How can we grow in wisdom and love? Continue reading
In the midst of my challenges, I am tempted to panic and say, “I am out of here. This is too much. I can’t do it.” But then I remember what my practice of Zen is teaching me: “Complete things, Gavin. Follow them through, whether it is education, apprenticeships or new year’s resolutions”. Continue reading
I was functional and productive this week as I went about attending to work, projects, sport, friends and loved ones. I was faithful to my new year’s resolutions, prioritising what I was most passionate about which included working behind the scenes for a new initiative on mindfulness and mysticism. However, I experienced a bout of loneliness on Friday night which left a drain in my energy and spirit. It was meant to be a celebration of my week, but I got caught up on a train of impulsivity. Next time I commit to being more aware of my loneliness and to apply the ‘3 P’s’ Continue reading
In 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson states: “You could help direct the world, on its careening trajectory, a bit more toward Heaven and a bit more away from Hell. Once having understood Hell, researched it, so to speak—particularly your own individual Hell—you could decide against going there or creating that. You could aim elsewhere. You could, in fact, devote your life to this. That would give you a Meaning, with a capital M”.
Facing the reality
This advice nudged me to pause and reflect as I lay in bed dreaming of a better life. So, I closed my eyes and imagined what my Hell might look like. It went something like: “Despair, anguish, lack of peace, addictions, uncontrollable impulses, distractions that diminish my energy and direction… a deadness of head, heart and body, a feeling of dread for living”. I was only too familiar with this reality, a reality that I tended to turn to again and again whether aware of it or not.